Top 10 tips for dating the Dutch
You may have heard that Dutch women are the most beautiful in the world, or that Dutch men are boring. We look behind the rumours on dating the Dutch.
While many foreigners initially find the dating scene in the Netherlands daunting or inaccessible, understanding Dutch mentality can help reduce miscommunicating the ‘flirting' signals as practiced in the Netherlands.
While the Dutch are not renowned for being touchy on a first date, direct eye contact is the norm so don't be put off by incessant staring. Intimidating or sexy? You decide. Friends also usually kiss three times on the cheek in greeting, and some strangers may kiss when being introduced to someone through a friend, although a handshake is more common.
Splitting the bill
Chivalry has dissipated into the form of fairness. It is not uncommon to split the bill on the first date - right down to the last cent's worth of what you ate. Some say unromantic, but Dutch relationships pride themselves on equality. Another option is for one person to pay for, say, drinks and the other for movie tickets. Either way, be prepared that a date is not always going to be free ride, and free drinks in bars might not be that forthcoming.
It's unnerving approaching a group of men or women to strike up a conversation with someone you have your eye on – but such is the dating scene in the Netherlands. Foreigners sometimes feel isolated by the mass social gatherings, but unless you see another way in, you'll just have to brave it and charge – and accept the possible rejection, or possibly even a group first date.
Some report the Dutch avoid making ‘real' contact with foreigners, making it difficult to get past the first dating hurdle and settle down. But it's not impossible – many foreigners report happy relationships (and marriages) with Dutch nationals. Making new Dutch friends or partners may be difficult at first, but once break through, you'll find the Dutch can make very loyal friends or partners for life.
Keeping it casual
The Dutch aren't known for dressing to the hilt. Part of this has to do with the prevalent bike culture – have you ever tried biking in high heels and a mini skirt, through the rain? The Dutch laid back attitude tends to extend to clothes (and makeup), so you may want to take it down a notch if you're used to getting very gussied up for a date. Don't take it personally if your date shows up in sneakers.
Don't always trust the forums
While expat forums can provide some helpful advice, their dating threads are often the setting for uninhibited (and often unrepresentative) venting: "Dutch women here are rude, arrogant and unfriendly." "The only thing Dutch men have really taken to heart is 'going Dutch'." Resist the temptation and look for more balanced advice elsewhere.
Be open to cultural differences
Be aware of the impact of cultural differences on your relationship. Misunderstanding can easily arise when dating someone new, especially if your different upbringing means that you often take very different things for granted. Try to be patient, relax and don't expect him/her to act exactly like the girls/guys back home. And on that note...
Learn more about the Dutch
Do you know the meaning of gezellig? And that within many Dutch men and women there is a battle between the inner tolerance and the inner Calvinist? Would you presume that ‘you little fart' is an insult? Learning the basics of Dutch culture can do wonders for your love life – and your Dutch life in general.
Every person is unique
Would you describe yourself as just another American/Australian/Belgian...? The same applies to the Dutch. The bottom line is – you are dating a person you like, not the country they are from. So keep an open mind and enjoy yourself. As the Dutch would say: Succes.
Casey Marriot / Cormac Mac Ruairi / Expatica
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Updated from 2013.
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